India, Japan to boost defence ties
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 03, 2011, 14:56
Tokyo: India and Japan are to hold their first bilateral naval exercises next year and have agreed to boost military cooperation, in line with Tokyo's desire to upgrade defence ties with New Delhi to balance China's growing maritime assertiveness.

Boosting defence ties was one of the major issues to figure in high-level talks between the visiting Defence Minister A K Antony and his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Ichikawa.

Details of the naval exercises between Japan's maritime defence forces and the Indian navy expected to be held next year would be worked out in future discussions.

The decision to hold joint naval exercises comes in the wake of moves by Japan to counter China's increasing aggressiveness in the South China Sea where tensions have risen between Chinese and other littoral countries.

The two countries have also decided to hold joint exercises between their armed forces alongside enhancing their combined anti-piracy efforts.

During the day-long delegation level talks with his Japanese counterpart, Antony said military ties between the two countries are "transparent" and "geared towards peace and prosperity of the region" and hoped that in future, the India-Japan defence cooperation will scale new heights.

The two sides "recognised the importance of sea lanes and decided to actively pursue consultations and cooperation in the field of maritime security both bilaterally and in association with all other countries in the region", Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

The two sides will initiate the India-Japan Defence Policy Dialogue early next year here and also expressed satisfaction over the planned defence exchanges under which the Japanese Defence Minister will visit New Delhi later this year, he said.

Expressing happiness over coordination between the two Navies in their anti-piracy efforts, Antony said India has increased its deployment in the East Arabian Sea since November 2010 and felt "concerted efforts of the world community, under a UN mandate, are necessary to effectively address the problem".

"There is a need to not only have a legal framework for prosecuting the pirates, but concerted efforts are also necessary to track the money-trail and to stop it from being channelized for funding terrorist activities, worldwide," he said.

The Defence Minister expressed hope that respective organisations from both sides would be able to establish a mechanism to share the escort schedules with the merchant ships flagged with them.

On maintaining the security of the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC), Antony said, "India supports freedom of navigation in international waters and the rights of passage in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea which should be respected by all".

As per the discussions, there will be an exercise between Japanese and Indian Navy next year and there will also be a cadet exchange programme between the National Defence Academy of both India and Japan.

"Both sides will implement Staff Talks between Ground Self Defence Forces and Indian Army in 2012. Staff Exchanges between Air SDF and Indian Air Force will be held in 2012 and be developed to Staff Talks at the earliest date," Kar said.

The two sides will implement exchanges on peacekeeping operations including exchanges between International Peace Cooperation Training and Exercise Unit of the Central Readiness Force of GSDF and Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK), India, Kar added.

The Indian delegation included Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, Indian Ambassador to Japan, Aloke Prasad, Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral R K Dhowan and Central Army Commander Lt Gen V K Ahluwalia.


First Published: Thursday, November 03, 2011, 14:56

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